The Face of Leukemia- Just look at me, really its ok.

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Bald is beautiful

We’re all born bald, baby. – Telly Savalas

I collect hats. It’s what you do when you’re bald– James Taylor

It’s a great event to get outside and enjoy nature. I find it very exciting no matter how many times I see bald eagles –Karen Armstrong

What’s so brave about being bald? I’ve not fought for my country or found the cure for cancer I’ve just gone out without my hat on! -Gail Porter

You know it is interesting to me this stereotype associated with being bald. If you’re a man, it’s obviously genetic. Poor you, trudging through life with the same cranial cul-de-sac formed upon you as your father and his father before him. Unless of course you are a skinny, emaciated man then you must obviously be dying from some rare form of cancer. Or you just happen to be Billy Corgan jr. or Michael Stipe then ROCK ON DUDE!!! BALD ROCKS YEAH!

But what if you are a woman? Sinead O’Connors’ shiny domeness was by choice, a political statement against a traditional view of women. (well-played I might add)  But what if you don’t have her “balls”, what if you are brought screaming and kicking into baldness? Seriously think about this, in our society a woman unfortunately is judged the moment she walks into a room. Not for her sunny personality or Mensa card-carrying IQ. Nope, she is judged for her looks. Make-up, clothing, body weight, eyes, breasts and of course her hair. That is right, men will either ogle a woman within the first 30 seconds, ponder ogling her over the next 30 minutes or write her off. In the mean time women within the room will smile to your face and talk shit the rest of the evening. Sorry ladies its true, I have witnessed more than my fair share of character assassinations based on any one of the above criteria not being met to perfection on more than one occasion.

People get real comfortable with their features. Nobody gets comfortable with their hair. Hair trauma. It’s the universal thing-Jamie lee Curtis

So imagine, carrying this social pressure your entire life only to wake up one day without one of these aforementioned 6 major sight line musts for survival. What would you do? How would you behave? Would you curl up into a ball and cry or say fuck it and march boldly into the world claiming my hair will not define me!

Jacy lost all her hair on or around the first week of December. It has gone from sadness to a fun playful experience then one of empowerment! She has come to terms with this loss, worn a few wigs to help with a social awkwardness associated with a woman not 1474617_10153673039070221_12575420_nhaving hair, and in the end decided that 9 times out of 10 bald is beautiful.

Now while none of us can say with certainty what we would or would not do as it has not happened to us personally, I am proud of my wife for taking this strong-willed, brave stance. She does indeed have a perfectly shaped head and I think she is hot, hOT, HOT bald! Really, like she could never have hair on her head again and it would be ok with me! The woman is drop dead gorgeous! Throw in her stunning smile, caring heart and amazing personality, well ladies and gentlemen we have the trifecta of baldness!

But let me say this before I drone on too much about the woman I love and her shiny new dome. When we are out in public.

I see you.

I see when you stare at her as though it is wrong for her to be bald.

I see you when you look behind her and sigh as though you just cant relate. It’s ok, we understand if you cannot, but please don’t be fake.

While eating in a restaurant I see you staring, with your smart ass smirks, elbows flying into each others ribs while walking by outside. Moron it’s a window, if you can see us I can see you!

My ears may be 47 years old but your mumbles are not quiet enough. She hasn’t lost her breasts and even if she had you shouldnt be staring trying to figure it out so don’t look, she isn’t skin and bones so quit guessing her weight, and yes she lost ALL her hair, so stop wondering about places you cannot see and how much wax is being saved.

If you are going to stare don’t look ashamed when I make eye contact with you, walk up and ask questions, we are always open to discuss Leukemia and its effects upon our lives.

When you do have something to say, dont automatically behave as thought this is her last day on earth. The news media has ruined the public in regards to behavior when confronted with a bald woman. Smile say hello and ask away with glee! We are happy to be here and so you should be as well. Who knows the bald woman you talk with may have alopecia, thusly not really needing you to pray for them, unless you feel that will raise hair follicles from the dead?

If you have had a couple of drinks, your inhibition is lowered and you feel as though it is the perfect time to act like an ass with rude or inappropriate comments about this beautiful human being or any like her that may be in my presence, understand this, I WILL  make it the very worst night of your life. I promise..

When my wife takes her wig off in the middle of a store and it shocks you, just chuckle. It is funny, we laugh about it all the time and will laugh with you I promise! But if you can’t chuckle politely than at least close your mouth, that looks funnier than her bald head and we would hate for you to feel bad about yourself.

Remember, people going through chemotherapy are no different from you and me. Most of them have an incredible sense of humor, some have survived the very worst of treatment, others are still dealing with an inner loss while a few are looking at just making it a few extra days.  These people, these priceless examples of survival and strength, still need to laugh, love, talk, and feel. They still need to be accepted as the very same human beings they were before cancer. They know they are not the same inside and nothing will ever change that, but what they don’t need is to be reminded through ignorance, insensitivity and callousness.

Look into the face of cancer, tell me what you see.

I see LOVE…

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The Faces of Leukemia (December 14, 2013)

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My face….

Its midnight and I can’t sleep. Facebook says: write something…. But I can’t, not for lack of inspiration but because my writings are more than Facebook can handle, the emotion, my feelings, inner torment. These feelings take more than a few lines to describe, more than a paragraph to sum up into a neat tidy little package. These yearnings, longings, fears, unknowns, hover over my head. They are kept at bay most of the time, squashed into remission by a steel will and optimism. Yeah optimism. The problem with optimism for myself is I am a natural pessimist. The person who says no first than after careful consideration reconsiders my response. Some would call it a natural negativity, I call it lessons learned through life experiences.

Why cant I sleep, what is tugging at my brain causing fear to paralyze me in bed with the light on? Waiting, no, praying the monster under the bed doesn’t come out to play?

It is the darkness.

With darkness comes silence, with silence comes thought, with thought comes sadness and with sadness comes fear. Fear for control I do not have, fear for an outcome which I know not an answer. Fear one morning I will awaken from this dream or nightmare and find myself alone. Now being alone is not so bad, that is when you have someone to come Unknownhome too. Being alone brings peace, it allows you an ability to discover and rejuvenate your self-awareness. That is unless you are already comfortable in that department. Being alone should be by choice not by design. Being alone should never be forced upon you unwillingly, in a cowardly act or unforseen circumstance. In the end it doesn’t matter what it is,or how it happens, I am scared of being alone.. I am scared of losing my friend, my wife, to that bastard known as cancer.

I roll over in the night and she is there, even sleeping she lazily smiles at me with the brightness of a thousand suns. She holds me in a way that even I can’t explain. I sleep well because her rhythmic breaths sooth me so. A touch of the hand, a brush of the leg, a heavy sigh, they all lend to the comfort that can be sleep.  And yet now no matter how positive things are looking in regards to her health, no matter what is happening in our lives there will always be an unknown. The unknown is Leukemia and it will remain hovering over us for the rest of our lives.

How many days do we have? Is it a year, three, five, ten or twenty? What is the outcome Unknown-3and why can’t we know. Doesnt the cosmic powers that be, the holy heavens above know we have children? Doesnt anyone understand the importance of this woman seeing her children grow up, get married, have children of their own? Doesnt my selfish rant have some bearing on our future? Although ultimately, knowing might not make things any easier, bitching about it now in a rudimentary way is cleansing.

Darkness creeps slowly, with it sounds of others sleeping makes me inevitably jealous. Closing my eyes, squeezing them tight,  praying sleep will come quickly for exhaustion consumes my very being. Reaching out slowly, nervously grasping a small bead like switch, turning off the light, which instantly turns on a fear. With this fear comes loneliness, with loneliness comes a absurdity in regards to wasted time worrying about an emotion that shouldnt be there since she lays right beside me, healthy (as healthy as one can be) and alive.

I hate you darkness! My heart beats faster, my respiratory rate rises and it becomes easier each time to hate you more! You envelop me, smothering me like a blanket, restraining me as a straitjacket would.. Your coldness leaves me sweating, wallowing in ice water and before I know it I just can’t swim anymore. Darkness you take pleasure in ruining my life, keeping me from the sanity so many others enjoy by midnight. You are to busy feeding my thoughts and dreams waiting for the cloak and dagger game you play to emerge from the shadows. I hate you darkness, I god damn hate you..

So many are wondering what its like, how your life changes upon learning someone you love has Leukemia or cancer. The questions are normal and I love being able to answer them. I am very thankful it is me who gets to support this woman. I am thankful God found a job for me that falls within my realm of understanding. I am thankful that I can hold this woman up, and help her walk through the next 6 months of chemotherapy surrounded by nothing more than our will and love. Most people wonder if there is something more, if there is something better they should be doing with their lives. Not me, God gave me my job, its right in front of me and she loves me to the moon and back. I don’t want to disappoint her, I don’t want to lose her, I don’t want to be alone.. Selfish as it seems…

Fuck you darkness, I hate you, I hate you all to hell….

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(Please understand this is just a rant. I am fine, we will prevail, we will kick cancers ass! I am not looking for sympathy or pity, but helping those understand some of the irrational thoughts happening when you are alone, in the middle of the night, trapped with  nothing more than the unknown and a crazy brain that refuses to quit thinking. It is after all why I write…) 

 

The Face of Leukemia (December 7, 2013)

 

IMG_2037Hair:

We trim it, grow it, wax it, shave it, style it, comb it, do crazy things with these human DNA carrying follicles for attention. Hair, its funny we don’t really think all too much about hair as it’s an assumed portion of our anatomy. From the day we are born all of us walk through life with hair of some kind layering our bodies; some more than others and some less than others by choice, but hair none the less. imagesCAQUXXXU

But there is an elite crowd of human beings walking this earth. They belong to a very special club. A club that no one wants to join, no one person is standing at the clubhouse door banging fervently to get inside. No one..  Yet rumor has it close to one million people are card-carrying members of this fraternity.  One million people have come as close to death as you can get then climbed their way back inheriting a lifetime membership along the way. One million people. Think about that for a second….

So what do these one million plus club members have to do with hair?

They don’t have any! That is right, not one single follicle, not a stray, a sprig, a whisker or unkept eyebrow. It hasn’t been shaven down to the epidermis or plucked by a crazy tweezers wielding lunatic. Every single hair, all 140,000 strands of color enhanced, vanity driven strands are gone.

This of course is the norm when you are enrolled in the chemotherapy club, everyone’s worst nightmare right?  Its funny really when you think about it, we as a society put so much emphasis on our hair.

Turning grey or tired of your look- Color it, trim it, shape it.

Falling out- Rogaine

Thinning- Hairclub for men/transplants/comb over

Trends- Shave it, mohawk it, pixie cut, curls, bun, dreadlocks, cornrows, bob, etc..

And yet when it has all fallen out, what emphasis is there? To wear a hat or a scarf? As a chemotherapy club member you never have to worry about haircuts, dyes, styles etc.. All you need to worry about is whether or not your noggin stays warm.  There are thousands of hats, scarfs, and bandanas to choose from, or hey just step out like Mr. Clean and rock that shit!

Imagine waking up one morning and finding all of your hair-and I mean ALL OF YOUR HAIR gone. You are lying in a bed of your own hair. Pubic hair, pit hair, leg hair and arm hair and of course the hair from your head. What would you do? How would you feel? Would you smile taking the high road and consider it just another chapter in your already interesting life? Or would you curl up into a ball, terrified to walk amongst the hair gifted for fear of being spotted, ridiculed by the insensitive or pitied by the ill-informed. I am not making a judgement for one way or the other, but if I had my choice I am pretty sure a bitchen tattoo would make its way onto my dome, helping me to celebrate the obvious. I am still alive and kicking cancers ass! Now in no way am I advocating for my wife to get a tattoo on her head. It was purely a rhetorical question.

Why am I traveling down this little pathway? Because that is exactly what happened today. Jacy started officially losing her hair. Its coming out a thin handful at a time, and when she sits up in bed her hair looks like a dog when it sheds. Strands poking out of everywhere with strands littering her pillow. Staring at this and fighting an overwhelming urge to pull them out myself (it’s the ape in me) I found myself pondering those very questions. Thinking about all the times I cracked ignorant jokes about looking as a chemo patient to friends. How would I feel? How would you feel if this was happening to you?

Now luckily enough a sense of humor is what all of our friends and family have and my wife is no different. We have joked heartily about her losing hair and tomorrow I am going to shave it all off to save her from choking to death in the middle of the night on an unruly chia pet looking clump! But just the same it has changed my sensitivity level or judging from that last crack maybe it hasn’t? I digress…

Do you really want to know how much you love someone? Do you really want to understand if you or your partner are shallow and vain? Shave each others heads and see if one of three things happen.

  1. You both laugh until snot blows from your nostrils then fall into each others arms with smiles upon your faces.
  2. You realize in that moment you partner is hands down the most beautiful person you have ever known.
  3. You stare at each other uncomfortably acknowledging you are so shallow that you cannot see the beauty within. Only the trappings of what is on the outside.

Lucky for me as I stated previously this has changed my sensitivity towards others, and as far as my wife is concerned, well I have always seen the inner beauty of this woman. When I look into her eyes and kiss her lips there is nothing else. Bald or full of hair, when she smiles at me the world is a better place.  I don’t think she really knows the power her smile and personality carry in this world but I am pretty sure she is about to find out.

Anyways, Jacy already knows how to rock the bandana! That my friends is just freaking awesome!

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Kicking Cancers Ass once cell at a time!